Teagasc launched its ‘Road Maps to Better Farming 2020’ advisory booklet at today’s National Ploughing Championships.

The publication covers all the main sectors: dairying, suckler beef, pigs, tillage sheep and horticulture – providing general advice on how Irish farmers can best meet the targets laid down within the Harvest 2020 report, published just over three years ago.

Where milk is concerned, the key development that will impact on the EU dairy sector as whole will be the abolition of dairy quotas in 2015. Teagasc is predicting that dairy cow numbers will increase by 333, 000 over the next seven years. In line with this milk yields per cow will rise from the current figure of 4,902 litres per lactation up to 5,4201 litres by 2020. Significantly, current research performance is averaging 5,600 litres per cow.

Amongst the performance targets set for the sector during the period ahead is the greater utilisation of grass and forage. Teagasc envisages that herbage utilisation, which currently averages 7.3 tonnes per cow per hectare can increase to 13.2 tonnes. In tandem with this concentrate feeding levels will fall form the current figure of 875 kilos per cow per lactation down to 400 kilos.

Where sucklers are concerned, Teagasc is predicting a marginal reduction in beef cow numbers.  However, this will be balanced by an envisaged an increase in the number of calves born per cow per year. Other targets for the suckler beef sector include a reduction in average calving interval of 7 days and total forage utilisation increasing form the current level of 4.7 tonnes per livestock unit up to 6.2 tonnes.

Teagasc is also keen to highlight the growing demand for land for energy crops production, in tandem with the projected growth in the Irish dairy sector. These trends, when combined, will compete with land resource available to suckler beef and livestock finishing businesses.

The publications are available here:

Sectoral Road Map: Suckler Beef
Sectoral Road Map: Dairying
Sectoral Road Map: Agriculture and the Environment
Sectoral Road Map: Food
Sectoral Road Map: Forestry
Sectoral Road Map: Horticulture
Sectoral Road Map: Pigs

Pictured is all the action at the Teagasc National Ploughing Championships tent/Photo O’Gorman Photography